With Hokies in ACC’s picture, school in flux

Virginia Tech’s sudden re-entry in the Atlantic Coast Conference expansion picture created quite a stir on campus Thursday, and could put the Hokies in the position of facing a difficult decision. “It’s absolutely a double-edged sword,” William C. Latham, a member of the school’s Board of Visitors, said of the ACC’s reconsideration of the Hokies. “It’s too simplistic to call it a can of worms — it’s a bucketful of worms.”ACC leaders decided during a conference call on Wednesday to again consider Virginia Tech in an expansion plan that also targets Miami, Syracuse and Boston College of the Big East. ACC presidents had previously rejected Virginia Tech as a target.Since the ACC decided on May 16 to go after only the other three schools, Virginia Tech joined four other Big East football schools in a lawsuit against the ACC, Miami and Boston College, accusing them of conspiring to destroy the Big East. Before that, school officials had lobbied hard to be included if the ACC decided to expand.If they got an invitation and decided to jump leagues, the Hokies would be portrayed as traitors who only looked out for themselves. If they chose to keep fighting for the Big East, “We’d have a lot of people very unhappy,” Latham said.Latham said he had a conversation with Virginia Tech president Charles Steger on Thursday, but declined to reveal what Steger told him about the latest developments. He said he assumed Steger spent the better part of the day on the telephone.A government source told the AP on Wednesday that Steger planned to call board members Thursday to gauge how they felt about the possibilities now before them. Messages left with several other board members Thursday were not returned.”From a personal perspective, and that’s all I’ll give you, I think some good things are happening,” Latham said, declining to elaborate.”Ultimately everyone’s got to make a lot of choices,” he said.Steger learned of the possibility of being included in the expansion plan in a meeting with Georgia Tech president G. Wayne Clough in Blacksburg on Wednesday night.Clough, a former dean of the college of engineering at Virginia Tech, told the AP Wednesday night he didn’t meet with Steger in any official ACC capacity.”It was a friend to a friend and I said any information I got from the meeting I would take back to my colleagues,” he said.The ACC’s renewed interest in Virginia Tech, which a college source said was suggested by Virginia president John T. Casteen III during Wednesday’s teleconference, is still in the exploratory stages, according to Wake Forest president Thomas Hearn.”The Virginia Tech proposal was something that was just floated out there yesterday,” Hearn said Thursday. “It’s hard to tell if this thing has any legs yet.”Hearn said no future teleconferences among the ACC presidents and chancellors have been scheduled, but he expects the group will meet by phone early next week.”I suspect it would be more of a status report,” he said.Hokies athletic director Jim Weaver was surprised by the developments Wednesday and met with Steger on Thursday morning. Weaver said the Hokies have not received an official invitation to join the ACC, and could only evaluate one if it came.School officials also released a statement, saying “the expansion plans are the work of the ACC, and we have to wait and see what the ACC wants to do.”The plan to consider including Virginia Tech in the expansion plan would create a 13-team superconference, if approved. It also would free Casteen from the position of casting a vote that either kills the expansion plan or hurts Virginia Tech.Duke and North Carolina have both expressed concerns about travel costs, student welfare and projected revenues of an ACC football title game and future TV contracts.Casteen, who traveled to Europe for university business and a vacation Wednesday, has supported the Hokies’ candidacy and pledged to keep pushing for their inclusion.Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, whose office was involved in the Hokies’ joining the lawsuit with Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Rutgers and Connecticut, said the goal all along has been to protect the Hokies’ standing in a viable conference.”All of this is going to be up to the Board of Visitors,” Kilgore said.Several board members have long felt that Virginia Tech belongs in the ACC, Latham said, adding the manner in which that could finally come about is unsettling.”The ACC is apparently in the process of destroying the Big East by design, and I find that deplorable,” he said.

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